Bill Williams, a cofounder of the non-profit group Patriotic Productions — which puts on the flights, says this initial new flight to Washington D.C. for veterans from western Iowa and Nebraska will be limited. “To take all of them, it would be multiple flights and a million dollars,” Williams says. “Our compromise is to take the Purple Heart recipients from the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Bronze Star recipients are also welcome to apply for the flight, scheduled for May 24th. Williams says some other VIPs will also be making the journey. “We’re also going to take the highest-decorated combat veterans from those same three conflicts,” he says, “and our special guests on the plane will be Gold Star children of the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The chartered jet will fly out of Omaha’s Eppley Airfield for a day-long whirlwind tour of Washington D.C., including stops at several war memorials and Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns. There will be a special homecoming in Omaha that night. Williams says, “We’re going to pick them up on the tarmac at Eppley, drive them through the Old Market led by a marching band and horses and classic cars and motorcycles, down to the Durham Museum around the back and they’ll walk through that crowd of flags and signs to the cheers of those welcoming them home.”
The last honor flight, which was for Vietnam veterans, saw a crowd of about seven-thousand gathered at the Omaha airport to welcome the veterans back to town. Veterans of Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan who earned the Purple Heart or Bronze Star can apply for the May flight.
Applications are available at the website: www.patrioticproductions.org.
(By Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah)